WEF, Glencore, Tata Steel, De Beers form blockchain consortium

By Staff Writer

The Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) along with seven metals and mining companies including Glencore and India’s Tata Steel, has joined hands to create a blockchain consortium aimed at enhancing transparency and making the mining industry move towards more sustainable business models, according to an announcement.

Founding members of The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative include Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group Sàrl, Glencore, Klöckner & Co, Minsur, Tata Steel and Anglo American/De Beers (Tracr). Tracr is the diamond blockchain project initiated by De Beers which also involves Russian miner ALROSA.

The consortium, one of the many similar blockchain groups in the mining industry, will primarily work on addressing the lack of standardizations, track the provenance of the material, increase efficiency and track carbon emissions.

“The industry needs to respond to the increasing demands of minerals and materials while responding to increasing demands by consumers, shareholders and regulators for a higher degree of sustainability and traceability of the products,”  Jörgen Sandström, Head of the Mining and Metals Industry, World Economic Forum, said.

The consortium members will collaborate on proofs-of-concept to develop a blockchain platform, establish working groups and build governance. WEF said its motive is to enable inclusivity and cross-company collaboration.

The reason this consortium stands out it due to its focus on interoperability. It aims to connect all upstream and downstream partners, providing better co-operation and streamline processes.

In many cases, blockchain projects to support responsible sourcing have been bilateral.

“The result has been a fractured system that leaves behind parts of the ecosystem and lacks interoperability. This new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry. Members will examine issues related to governance, develop case studies and establish a working group,” the statement said.

They will work to use blockchain technology to increase trust in the system, especially between upstream and downstream partners, to address the lack of industry standardization and to track provenance, chain of custody and production methods.

WEF has offered its platform and expertise to help industry leaders better understand the impact and potential of blockchain technology. It will provide guidance on governance issues related to the delivery of a neutral industry platform and the expansion of members.

Competitors within the same industry who research and experiment with blockchain or distributed ledger technology are increasingly exploring consortium formation to accelerate and strengthen blockchain technology knowledge and potential research and development.

This trend is reflected in the Deloitte Global Blockchain survey published in May, where the overwhelming majority (92 percent) of respondents say they either belong to a consortium or plan to join one in the next 12 months.

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